I wringed my hands together nervously and wiped them on my dress. I had particularly chosen to wear my white salwar kameez today. White was Manoj’s favorite color. Of course, it was a silly attempt from me to appease him now. I doubted if Manoj would even give a glance to what I wore.
There was a sudden announcement last Friday, that our company had a new Vice President. Like all the others employee, I crowded into the cramped auditorium where the new VP was sitting on the podium along with a few other big names from the management committee.
My heart stopped completely and I forgot to breathe when I saw the new VP. It was a blast from my past, and I knew that this past was going to sear me badly. Manoj, my boyfriend in college, the same guy who had caught me red-handed with another guy, had returned to haunt me, as my new boss. I tried to wriggle out of the auditorium, but the sea of human bodies blocked my exit completely.
I tried to make myself invisible by hiding behind the man in front of me, who was built like the hulk. Manoj was at the front of the podium with the mike in his hand, talking to a captive audience, when his eyes fell on me. He was stunned for a moment but recovered soon and continued with his speech.
As soon as the event got over, I hurried over to the exit and pushing others, I ran to the parking lot where I lit a cigarette to calm down my nerves. My hands were shaking badly but I still couldn’t make any sense. The days from my college came back to me in flashes as I remembered how enamored Manoj was with me. With his sculpted body, chiseled face and his slate gray eyes, Manoj was easily the handsome hunk of the college. Whenever we went out, all eyes were on us. We made a very good looking couple and I was on cloud nine, we got invited to a lot of social events and parties.
But I knew that something was amiss in our relationship and, even though I ignored the feeling during our initial dating phase, it returned to haunt me relentlessly after a year of our relationship. There was nothing wrong with Manoj, he was a very considerate and loving boyfriend, and also very serious about our relationship. He often talked about our future, he wanted to continue his higher studies in abroad and persuaded me to do the same. I knew that he wanted us to be together, but every day I found myself getting more miserable and despondent.
Around the same time I met Anirudh, a junior from my college. We clicked off right away, there was an easy camaraderie between us, something that I sorely missed in the relationship with Manoj. I often felt that I was with Manoj because of his physical charm and his popularity. But we were quite different in personalities, while Manoj was ambitious and a go-getter always obsessing about lectures and deadlines, I was a free bird wanting to enjoy every silly moment. I loved eating panipuri at roadsides or watching a movie or getting drenched in rain and having fun like a child. And all these things that I couldn’t enjoy with Manoj, I got to do with Anirudh. Anirudh was just like me, a kid at heart, wanting to live in the present rather than worry about the future.
I knew that I was alarmingly attracted to Anirudh, while I was still in a relationship with Manoj. But I was a coward, I didn’t want to break Manoj’s heart by confessing that I had fallen out of love with him. So I dragged the relationship with me like a dead weight.
One night after watching a movie, I and Anirudh were sitting at a bench in park, gazing at blue moon and millions of twinkling stars, when all of sudden Anirudh pulled me towards him and kissed me. It was a soft, tender kiss that left me asking for more. I grabbed him and soon we were smooching without abandon on that lone park bench.
I was guilty of two-timing as I was still afraid of breaking off with Manoj. Fate took care of that for me. Anirudh and I were into a lot of kissing and cuddling, it was like a dam of passion had broken within me and I just couldn’t get enough of it. During one of our full blown kissing session in a deserted corridor of our college, Manoj walked by and saw us. I couldn’t meet his eyes, I held my gaze down and finally I mustered enough courage to see his face. The red rage that was burning in his eyes singed me, his silence scorching my soul and making me wretched.
I wanted him to shout, to hit back, to react. But he silently strode off. He broke contact with me completely. After few days I was told by his friends that he had gone abroad for his studies. I wept. I hated myself for not being able to get that closure in the relationship, for not confessing to him when I had stopped loving him, for giving him false hopes.
And now Manoj had returned back as my boss. I was a nervous wreck throughout the weekend wondering if Manoj would want to extract revenge? What if he gave me the pink slip? This job mattered to me a lot; I didn’t want to lose it. Would he still remember the incident that had occurred years ago and take advantage of his position to have his sweet revenge?
The phone at my desk rang shrilly making me jump in my seat.
“Meera, can you come to my room?” the unmistakable voice of Manoj droned over the line.
Brusque as always, I could see that Manoj had not changed much. Pushing my shoulders back and trying to project more confidence than I felt, I entered Manoj’s cabin.
“Hi Meera, have a seat”, Manoj said still seated and going through some files.
Okay, if he was cool then I could be cool too, I thought as I took my seat and waited for him to finish his darned work.
After a few minutes he looked up. He was still handsome as a devil. The same chiseled chin that showed off deep dimples when he smiled.
“Meera, that day when I saw you in the auditorium I was stunned for a moment. It’s been so many years. I walked off on our relationship without giving you a chance to explain. I knew there was something not right between us but I tried to brush it off as my imagination. You see, I loved you so much that I wanted things to work between us. So I coaxed myself to believe that all was well. But it obviously wasn’t, was it?”
“I’m so sorry Manoj. I should have confessed, I should have told you. We were not meant to be. We wanted separate things from life. And it was difficult for me to break away from you. Everytime I wanted to speak about how I felt, you would broach the topic of our future, of our wonderful life together. And eventually I would just shut my mouth, procrastinating the topic of break-up. I’m so sorry.”, I admitted.
“That’s alright Meera. As you said, we were not meant to be. Anyway thanks to you, I met Jenny.”, Manoj smiled with his eyes twinkling.
“I went abroad for my studies but I was extremely depressed. There I met Jennifer, a German student, a batch mate. She was like a soothing balm for my troubled soul. To cut a tall story short, we fell in love, got married and have wonderful twins. So I guess everything went well.”
“So no hard feelings”, I decided to check with Manoj.
“Nothing at all.”, confirmed a beaming Manoj. “In fact it will be lovely working with you. I guess we never had a proper closure and that was bothering me always. Now, everything is good.”
“Thank you Manoj”, I smiled at him relieved.
People change, feelings for people change, situations change but it’s alright. What’s not alright, is to play around emotions of people who care for you. To play with a person like a puppet on a string, that’s what’s not alright. Cut the string and free the puppet.
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda